Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Activity #4 - "A Girl Like Me"

As I continue to progress through the beginning of this course, I realize how naïve I am to the vast amount of biases that still exist within society. It seems so many strives have been made to eliminate these stereotypes; however, they are still there disparaging people every day. It is especially shocking to see the effects that they have upon innocent children. I had never actually heard of the doll test, but after seeing the results from the new test I see that children are extremely affected by stereotypes. The video taught me that the concept of “race” appears to decrease the self-worth in children whether they are aware o f it or not. After I saw the children continuously choose the white doll as the “nicer” doll, I thought that maybe that is what they believed the white dolls looked liked themselves. I couldn’t believe when most of them actually selected the black doll, the “meaner” doll, to describe which doll looked most like them. I’m not sure if the children actually understood that they were relating themselves to the doll which they selected as the inferior doll; however, it did prove that they had learned to place the black doll below the white doll. It was extremely unsettling to see children that can’t even understand the concept of race actually identifying with the stereotypes involved with it.

What is even scarier is that people must have acted racially towards the black children or their families in order for the children to think that they should place black people below white people. They are being molded to accept that they will always be looked down upon, which is completely wrong. Skin color and hair texture should in no way determine a person’s value in the world. The different characteristics between us should be what we are proud of and what makes us shine. Children need to learn this early, so that they understand they don’t have to fit any standard in society. The only way to hinder these thoughts from coming to children is to not put them before their eyes in the first place. In order to do this, society needs to change what it sets as the “mythical norm” for people in society.

After completing the readings, I feel a very simple description of the “mythical norm” is a white male. Although this is over exaggerating the idea, I think it helps spells out just how excluding the standards of the norm are. In order to describe a female “mythical norm”, Shaw and Lee characterize her as “White, middle-class, heterosexual, abled, thin, and a young adult” (pg 60). After reading that simple statement, I thought “Are you crazy!?!?” But I quickly realized that those are many of the standards that I try to hold myself to; I am in fact trying to attain this mythical normalcy. In fact it seems so obscure to title this a “norm” when in reality there are not many people who can even come close to this. The term “mythical norm” is so ironic, one would think that them women of society would scoff at it; however, I find myself having it as my goal.

The film seemed to illustrate that the meaning that has come to be associated with difference is ugly. One girl even claimed that, “I use to think of myself as being ugly, as being dark-skinned.” People want to fit in so much that they use bleaching creams, chemical straighteners, and many more obscure means that seem ridiculous when viewing them from the outside. Yet, I know when I’m in the same position that I go to the same extremes. And it is not only black people that deal with trying to reach society’s norm. The film portrayed white women as trying to overcome the stigma of being conceited or weak. The book describes white privilege as the “invisible package of unearned assets that White people can count on cashing in every day” (pg 62). I think the author should have titled this white male privilege. The film does focus on the fact that black people do fall far behind white people in privilege; however, I think the film also portrays the fact that white women still fall far behind white men in privilege as well. Society still has many strides to take towards equality, but I think the first step is for us all to understand that we should be embracing our differences.

1 comment:

Donna said...

this is a model of what I look for in an assignment... excellent discussion of the activity... very thoughtful